Brian Hall’s favorites and failures of 2011

0 Submitted by on Sat, 07 January 2012, 09:08

By: Brian Hall

At the end of each year I enjoy taking a look back at the films I was able to take in and recognize the best (and in some cases worst) times I had in a theater or in front of a Blu Ray player. It’s fun to recall the experiences and interesting to hear other people agree or disagree and contribute their own favorite films to the conversation. So, with 2011 behind us now, let’s do just that.

I have a hard time ranking films numerically because I may enjoy several different films equally for several different reasons. So in lieu of a traditional Top 10, I give you the films that I “Loved”, “Liked a Whole Lot”, or “Ugh,” hope to never catch again.

These are not my arguments for the best films of the year, just a reflection of my personal experiences with them:


My standout film viewing experiences of the year.

Jean Dujardin as George Valentin and Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller in Michel Hazanavicius's film "The Artist." Photo: The Weinstein Company

The Artist

Black and white, no dialogue and yet one of the most joyous experiences I had at a theater last year.

Attack the Block

Inner city kids taking on aliens in London. It’s like an R-rated Amblin film. A totally fun ride.

Midnight in Paris

A simple and surprising tale about inspiration and creativity. A lighthearted good time.

Mission Impossible 4

Exciting, fun, comprehensible action. They made it look easy but since an action movie hasn’t been this good in a while, apparently it is not.


Minor nitpicks aside, I loved these movies as well.

Super 8

The film isn’t without some minor issues but I loved the journey anyway. A fun, capable throwback to the Amblin formula I grew up with – suburban kids meeting something otherworldly.


Just because the film’s been talked to death shouldn’t detract from the fact that it’s still really, really funny.


Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan begin a tentative romance in "Drive." Courtesy photo.

A slow, violent, moody film that won’t leave you alone once you’ve left the theater. A kind of tone-poem with Ryan Gosling as our silent, stoic guide.

The Myth of the American Sleepover

Cross “Lost in Translation” with “Dazed and Confused,” set it in high school in the Midwest in 1989 and you get the idea. It can be a bit ponderous but this film still managed to awake my nostalgia for those times when I was a kid, wandering around at night while the world was asleep.

The Ides of March

Had no idea I was going to enjoy this look at a political campaign as much as I did. Gosling really brought it this year.

War Horse

Check cynicism at the door and you may enjoy this simple but warm tale about a boy and his horse like I did. It’s not very deep, but it’s nice – and I like that sometimes. Take Steven Spielberg and John Williams out of this equation and I guarantee you have nothing close to what this turned out to be however.

Thor/Captain America

I’m going to be honest, these Marvel films all sort of blend into one another for me. But that doesn’t mean they’re not a fun time and far better in story and execution than the other blockbusters in theaters these days.

Tree of Life

More of a lingering art installation than a movie, the film is a collection of moments, feelings, and flashbacks that will either resonate with you or push you away.

A Dangerous Method

I was surprised how much this film about Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and the woman who came between their friendship pulled me in. A slow-paced but engaging story.


“The Muppets,” “Real Steel,” “Contagion,” “Another Earth,” “Take Shelter,” “Everything Must Go.”


Films that had me eying the exits.

Cowboys and Aliens

The title alone sounds like the perfect Brian Hall combo platter but, unfortunately, the jarringly uneven screenplay and uninspired action made this a huge waste of a great opportunity.


A blunt tale about spoiled pseudo-intellectuals arguing about who the heck cares for 90 minutes straight.

Battle: LA

Shot like a bunch of teenagers happened to catch the action on their camera phones and then edited by someone who just bought a MacBook and was convinced cutting it all together would make a good story.

I should mention there are a few notable films I have yet to see – “Warrior” and “Margin Call” come to mind – but that pretty much sums up my 2011 viewing experience. What films do you agree with? Disagree with? I encourage you to come up with your own list to remember the films you enjoyed this past year. And here’s to many more enjoyable experiences at the movies in 2012!


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